August 11, 2008
The State of Alaska filed suit in federal court seeking to overturn the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's decision to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and other state officials fear that federal protection of the polar bear will cripple offshore oil and gas development in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off the state's northern coast. Wildlife biologists and environmentalists consider the areas in question critical habitat for the polar bear, whose numbers have been dwindling rapidly in the face of melting sea ice as a result of global warming.
"We believe that the Service's decision to list the polar bear was not based on the best scientific and commercial data available," Palin told reporters.
Kassie Siegel of the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, one of the lead groups petitioning to protect the polar bear...